Feel that Lockdown eye strain might be keeping you awake at night? You’re not alone. In fact since the coronavirus pandemic began, the hashtag "can't sleep" has been trending, with tales of people struggling to get their heads down for the night. Sound familiar? First of all it's really important to know that it’s completely normal for your sleep to be affected when you're in any situation which is out of your control. It’s our body's natural self defence mechanism.
If you’re struggling with sleepless nights and feel like you spend more time staring at the ceiling than being actually asleep then Optilase Ireland’s No.1 Private Eye Clinic, has some tips to help you keep your eyes shut for longer.
Lots of things that we do, or don’t do throughout the day have a huge effect on how we sleep. Routine for example is one of these, lots of sleep experts call routine the ‘guardian of good sleep’ as it protects our sleep, and with several lockdowns rupturing our sleep it’s unsurprising that people are struggling with sleep quality. So what can we do? Even if your life has changed recently, it’s a good idea to try and preserve with your old sleeping pattern. That means getting up at your normal time and going to bed at the normal time, however tempting it might be to stay up for an extra episode or two of your current Netflix fix.
Like to have a little nap during the day? We've got bad news. Sleeping experts point out that saving your sleepiness for bedtime is essential to a good night's sleep. Treat being sleepy as a precious resource and don't waste it on a short daytime nap.
Another really important factor in the quality of our sleep is getting outside as much as we can. We can't visit as many places as we used to, so we might not be getting out as much. That's bad news for our sleep because a little daylight can go a long way.
Our eyes need exposure to outdoor light because of a hormone in our body called melatonin - it regulates our sleep and wake pattern, and this is the only way our bodies know if it’s light or dark. If we stay indoors, it means a lack of exposure to proper light, which reduces melatonin levels. A good way to turn this around is to try doing all of your daily exercise outside or use this as a good reason to make yourself get out for a walk, or even to sit in the garden if you can. Optilase always like to advocate safe eye care but if you’re having trouble sleeping it’s a good idea to leave the sunnies off. Letting the sun get into your eyes a little bit will increase your sleep quality and your mood. And if you want to increase the results even more? Go outside at the same time each day, so it becomes part of your daily routine.
Working from home at the moment? This can be a difficult one for our body and mind to adjust to. But there is one trick that can really work - if you’re lucky enough to have options about where in the house you work, avoid your bedroom - your mind associates it with it being time to sleep. If you need to work in your bedroom try and avoid going near the bed. And that means not sitting in it or lying on it until you actually need to go and sleep. Ultimately, it's about trying to trick your mind that things are normal.
You may have a bit more time for TV and films nowadays, activities it might be tempting to have a drink with. But while alcohol can help us get to sleep faster, it's not good in the long-term as it ultimately just damages the structure and quality of our sleep. If you are going to drink, you should do it at the same time as you normally would - and drink the same amount you normally would - again a nod to the importance of routine.
Going to bed - what should I do differently?
De-stressing before bed is hugely important, particularly in the current climate. If we feel stressed before bed it’s hard to sleep. To help switch your mind off try to think of three good things that happened to you today, or three things you are grateful for. It could be anything - a family member, finishing work a little area or even a nice dinner! It’s hard for the brain to be grateful and anxious at the same time.
Having a digital detox before bedtime is something that many of us struggle with but it really does have a great effect on the quality of our sleep, and how easy it is for us to get to sleep.
Try and restrict the time that you are exposed to technology before bed, and don’t watch the news just before you get into bed. You don’t need to know anything then and there, and it will only make you feel stressed before sleeping.
And finally - how is your lighting? When you wake up the first thing you need is natural light. We are inside most of the day at the moment and extremely restricted to unnatural light. Make your opportunity to go outside in the morning, to remind your mind that it’s really awake and hopefully you’ll feel naturally sleepy in the evening. Stay by the window throughout the day while you work from home if you can so your body knows it’s daytime, for sure this will improve your sleep.
I can get to sleep but I keep waking up! What do I do?
First of all it’s important to look at why we’re waking up at night. With lighter sleep, it’s completely normal to wake up easily throughout the night. The reason for this is that we sleep in cycles, and normally we might stir during the night but we would roll over and forget. However, at the moment we are waking up alert. When you wake up, reassure yourself that it’s totally normal, and think about the cause. Are you thirsty? Too hot? Is there a noise that’s woken you?
Now to get back to sleep. Breathe in for a shorter count than you breath out. So breathe in for 2 seconds, then out for 4. By doing this you are sending a signal to your brain that you are happy and relaxed. Put your hand on your belly and feel it rising. However, if you can’t sleep after 15-20 mins, get out of bed. Don’t lie there stressing. Go and read a book, do a jigsaw, and distract yourself until you feel sleepy.
You’re most certainly not alone
Many people are finding that eye strain is also a real problem at this time, booking an eye test in your Opticians can help to identify this and also determine any other issues you may have with your eyes. Remember, your Opticians and Private Eye Clinics remain open at this time - if you need to get your eyes tested or want to go ahead with eye surgery, there’s no time like the present.
Call Optilase today
As Ireland’s No.1 Private Eye Clinic Optilase has Clinics, all over the Island of Ireland, including four Clinics in Northern Ireland. Optilase remains open during lockdown to help you with your eye concerns, offering eye surgeries such as Laser Eye Surgery, Cataract and Reading Vision Correction.
So why Optilase? As a proud, family-owned Irish business they have a brilliant team of medical professionals, all of whom are focused on providing the very best eye treatment available, using the latest and most sophisticated technology.
The team in Optilase has performed over 50,000 eye surgeries since its inception in the market - making it a household name across Ireland that can be trusted. Their focus is on providing best in market care and support as you navigate through your journey to better sight. With Clinics all over Ireland, so no matter where you are across the country, you will have access to a premium Laser Eye Surgery, Cataract or Reading Vision Correction experience.
For more information on Optilase and to book your free consultation +353 1 223 8821 now, and we promise - you’ll see the difference!